It was the first question of question time in Federal Parliament on Tuesday and it had Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis fired up.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten took to the despatch box at 2pm and kick-started the oft-fiery parliamentary session with a question about Ms Sudmalis’ stance on proposed penalty rate cuts.
“Can the Prime Minister confirm his colleague, the Liberal Member for Gilmore, was describing government policy when she said it’s a gift for our young people that their penalty rates have been cut,” Mr Shorten asked.
Ms Sudmalis’ reply was immediate: “That’s not true.”
Repeated interjections from a visibly angry Ms Sudmalis then prompted the Speaker, Tony Smith, to ask her to stop.
Mr Shorten’s question was sparked by a Mercury story, published on Tuesday, that quoted Ms Sudmalis saying plans to slash penalty rates would create more jobs.
“It’s not cutting wages, it’s opening the door for more hours of employment and in a regional area like Gilmore, with almost double the national youth unemployment, that’s a gift; that is a gift for our young people to get a foot in the door of employment,” Ms Sudmalis said.
Mr Turnbull’s response to the Opposition Leader’s question told of Ms Sudmalis being a “hard-working member” who represented an electorate that had “many areas of high unemployment".
“What she knows is that the decision of the Fair Work Commission will enable more small businesses to open on weekends and which will provide more job opportunities for young people,” the Prime Minister said.
“None of us are going to take the Leader of the Opposition’s version of what the honourable member has said as gospel.”
Later, using a personal explanation, Ms Sudmalis said Labor had “sought to misinterpret my words of support for workers and small business”.
“I won’t be intimidated; I will always stand up for people and workers and small businesses in Gilmore, especially with a youth unemployment rate of nearly 20 per cent,” she said.
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